The Invisible American --The American Indian
Indian Actor and former SAG Board Member.
Anglo’s have exploited American Indians for more than Six Hundred years. The American Indian has been an American citizen for just over One Hundred years. Until the U.S. Government exploited the American Indian in WWII, most people were unaware of the fact they were American citizens.
In the first films made about American Indians, they were portrayed as savages killing European settlers. For the next century this image remained the same, until the industry changed their roles to portray them as them defeated, drunken, noble savages. Today, the American Indian is invisible in prime time television, only to be seen when Hollywood decides to exploit the American Indian culture with little regard to accuracy.
The American Indian influence can be found in every part of America today. Indians can be found in our U. S. Government, local government, law enforcement, health care and our military. According to Jack D. Forbes, an emeritus professor of American Indian studies at the University of California-Davis, because of undercounts and other census quirks the total number of Indians in the United States today may be close to fifteen or even thirty million. In reference to the 2000 census data, Indians can be called America’s fastest-growing minority.
The American Indian community needs to unify, stand up, be counted and demand change. The entire community, Indian and non-Indian have to ask the question: Why is the American Indian Invisible? This question needs to be taken to the film industry – asked, then answered. Through the years the industry has created a negative stereotype image of the American Indian. It will take the pro-active involvement of the industry to reverse the damage they have created. It will take the constant voice of the community demanding this change. The community should boycott any network with the least improvement of the American Indian Image.
The recent Screen Actors Guild casting data report reported a loss of 48 roles for American Indians. In their press release, the Guild failed to present all the facts about the unemployment of American Indians. Approximately forty one thousand roles were cast and American Indians filled just over one hundred of them. In prime time television the American Indian is almost invisible. The Screen Actors Guild represents about fifteen hundred actors who happen to be American Indian. The way the Guild reports the unemployment of American Indians only exacerbates their problem.
The American Indian actor now suffers from romantic discrimination and exploitation in today’s media. The image of the American Indian needs to evolve into the twenty-first century. Contemporary roles need to be open to actors who happen to be American Indian. In order for this to happen, the image of leather and feathers has to be put aside.
This image overhaul will take a real commitment by the industry. Each of the unions will need to create an outreach program to organize all American Indian talent. The unions will need to unify in their commitment to involve the American Indian. The greatest change in the entertainment industry will be in the way in which talent (actors, writers, directors, producers) happen to be American Indians are hired. The studios and networks need to unify in their commitment to effect change.
The romantic discrimination and exploitation of the America Indian needs to stop. This may be the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century for our media giants. The American Indian is involved in every part of the American society except for media. The time for inclusion of the American Indian voice in American media is now.
Mark S. Reed
New Gila River Resort Manager Is Non-Indian
Todd Raessler , A native of Gettysburg, PA is the new manager of the Sheraton Wild Horse Resort and Spa which is owned by the Gila River Indian Community. In an interview with Stephanie Paterik, a writer for The Arizona Republic, he was asked several questions, two of which directly pertain to the Gila River Tribe.
“What appealed to you about the new job?
“What attracted me to move to the desert was the reputation of the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Within Starwood (Hotels & Resort Worldwide, Inc.), it’s a well-known resort for being young, only four years old, very high service levels and a very unique integration of Native American culture within the resort. It has a very destination feel even though it is only 11 miles from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.
“Wild Horse Pass is unique in that it’s the only luxury resort in the state owned by a Native American tribe. How is it different working for a tribe as opposed to a corporation?
“As I would say what’s different first of all you need to understand the tribe, what’s important to them about their culture and their vision for the resort
“Their pace and focus is different than corporate America. They want to be very protective of their land and culture and move at a pace so that they’re not making any compromises along the way. They have great integrity. You have to really understand and respect that as you move forward, in how the resort is going to grow. They want to look at all sides of the coin.”
Raessler has been in the hospitality business for 23 years and has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
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